tv Tavis Smiley WHUT November 18, 2010 8:30am-9:00am EST
tavis: tonight, a conversation with comedian, commentator, and starred dennis miller. on friday night, his comedy special, "dennis miller: the big speech." he continues his role as a commentator for fox news. his thoughts on a wide range of subjects, including i suspect the fallout from the midterm elections. conversations with dennis miller
coming up right now. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance proudly supports tavis smiley. tavis and nationwide insurance, working to improve financial literacy and the economic empowerment that comes with it. >> nationwide is on your side >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] [captioning made possible by kcet public television] captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org--
tavis: please welcome dennis miller to dispose program. the star is back on hbo with a new comedy special called "dennis miller: the big speech." here now, a preview of "dennis miller: the big speech." >> what is it with the european model president obama is striving for? we have over 300 million people. we cannot pursue the european model. give bill clinton that. when he said he dug european models, he actually meant european models. you have to respect that. [laughter] tavis: is obama not as good source material as clinton was? >> clinton was a treasure trove. he walked around in a perpetual state of eldon tape. -- al dente. obama looks like he is loyal to the old lady.
i actually have grown fond of hillary over the years. i sometimes look at barack and he is a little soft core me. i look at hillary and i think bill should have protected some of that on to the terrorists. we know she has been cheated on more frequently than a blind woman playing scrabble with gypsies, so she is always a cranky. [laughter] i was trying to segue in. tavis: i was in a conversation the other day. i am curious we have taken on this. i was curious on the fact that whether obama is an african american has cost canadians in any way, shape, or form to act up a little. >> i disagree with the white house, though. [laughter] i do not know that. comedians -- it is their business.
the beginning is to make fun of the people in power. he is the cat in power. he seems like a nice guy. he is cool. i dig the image for our country. i was teasing earlier about the war thing, but he surprised me on his war stance. he reinvigorated the battle to some degree, the use of drums. there is a lot like about him. i have to make fun of him. i cannot worry about people thinking i am a racist. he is the president. he sets himself up to be made fun of. i do not want to treat him like a faberge egg because he is black. you cannot do that. tavis: you are not anti-obama? there are those who think fox is anti-obama. >> you get the sense -- when this interview goes on fox, we are going off on him. i cannot tell you how many times i said, "who do you watch?" they say, "i would not give the
benefit of the doubt of watching it. these guys i disagree with, i watch once in awhile to see if i still disagree with them. as far as obama goes, i am telling you it mean something to me that the cat is as charismatic as that and has never treated -- never cheated on his old lady. in a 24-7 news cycle we live in, where everything is out in the open, you know if he had run around we would have found out about it. i like the way he is with his wife, his kids. he seems like a sweet man. he has acquitted the war on terror more than i thought i had. he has held true to the blueprint. i do not dig the spending. we are spending crazy amounts of money. i do not care who is in there. i would not agree with the spending that much. we have to stop spending for a little bit. tavis: we are talking presidents. president bush fifth book is out. have you had a chance to peruse it?
that is source material, that guy. he has to be far better than clinton was for material. >> listen. bush, to me -- i did not get all of it, but i got that -- hear is the terror. the father keeps saying, don't make me come back. for years the kids are bouncing off the walls. all of a sudden, bush says you're to make me come back. that is what i did about bush. i think somebody got flattened summer along the way. it is not a perfect world and sometimes you have to find somebody. tavis: but the reason he said we were going to flatten him did not quite work out. >> that was never the reason for me. that was his business. i am in a different world. i was sitting there at home going after 9/11, if i just saw
the plane go into the building, somebody has to get kicked. these kids happened to be unlucky enough to the first up in . they drew the kicker. some bad guy with wmds -- that was never a big ticket for me. tavis: there is all this drama. fox has had their turn at this as well, where commentators are caught up in this. seriously. we have fox spending one way, msnbc spending another way. what is happening to our media? >> first off, has it ever been done down the middle? tavis: walter cronkite was down the middle. >> he was the beginning of the end of non-opinionated journalism. he goes on the news one night and says, "in the eyes of this reporter, the war is lost.
this war is unwinnable." that is the beginning of all of this balkanization into news factions at this point. walter cronkite said he thought the war in vietnam was unwinnable. that is a big moment. that is when all this opinion starts, in my book. when the whip walter cronkite out and say he was obi wan to moby -- obi-wan kenobi -- the man called out a war. that is big opinion. on election night, i do not know if you watched msnbc, but it was a contentious panel over there. they had michelle bachman on. onstage, chris was saying are you hypnotized and laughing at her. this is pretty tough. i go over to fox where dana milbank of the washington post's insists there was a token liberal there -- there were seven people on that night. throughout the night, they had a whole bunch of people on there.
they had people from the other side of it. to my way of thinking, there were five or six people. there are certain guys on fox to tilt to the right. i would be disingenuous if i did not say so. i went on with a riley once a week for 10 years. every time i think i have impaired, he says something and i did not know that about bill o'reilly. when a girl on msnbc says she hates fox, that maddow girl, and you say, "what do you hate about it," she says, "i would not watch it." she says i didn't watch it. until you watch it, i do not know. tavis: how did dennis miller and up developing his own world view, his own sense of things? as you know, in this town, there are not a lot of folks of your -- >> i am from pittsburgh. here is my world view.
if human beings with similar genitals' want to get married because they love each other, i am happy for them. if some not overseas wants to blow their wedding up to make a statement, i want our guys to kill them first. as far as money goes, i think you should keep at least half of all your money. between state, local and all that stuff. this is what passes for car right now. i want the bad guys to get hurt and i want to keep my money. anything else, people can do what they want. it is none of my business. but i would like to keep half my money. i am keeping one for everyone i am giving away. what is wrong with that? the inheritance tax thing -- why do you what to -- why do you want to pass that? why do you want to spoil your kids? i don't even know your kids. can you introduce me to your kids before i give them half?
it seems like basic to me. we can never think this step. they can tell me i am mistreating terrorism and its tenuous connection to the radical islamic world. when it is dropping bombs on your kids, that gets my attention. throughout history, there has been crazy people. but if you went up to crazy people and said, "want to strap a bomb on your kid" -- i am crazy, but i am not that crazy. we have a savage enemy and we have turned into a mincing leviathan of political correctness. i think that is dangerous. these people are primitives, radical islam. i have a friend who works in tehran for a realtor and the only reason they are not getting attacked there is that they have their head up. there is no realtor. that was a joke. tavis: i have been listening to
all these pundits pontificate about what the midterms really were all about, but the take away really is. i have been waiting for you to sit in this chair so you can school me on what these midterms or about. >> i think there were about the fact that they watched the state of the union for two years and think pelosi looked crazy over his shoulder. have you ever seen that much of somebody doing nothing? she sits there and her eyes are twitching like a rainy day at west world. then she looks like a shark, like jaws. then she is twitching like a hummingbirds' wings. what is the deal with that woman? i think they look at her and said, "what do i have to do to get her out?" she looks back crazy. she looks sleep upside-down crazy to me. tavis: this woman has said she in fact is going to run. >> do you know how orgasmic i am
that is going to be the face of the democratic party? run that thing with whatever the big thing is. baby, you will make some people cranky doing that, people who understand that in our elections there are winners and losers. you cannot walk up with that big smile. you are doing yourself in. tavis: the numbers i have seen -- since the blue dogs and centrists got run out of the congress, the democratic caucus is more liberal now than it was prior to this. >> i heard there is a bit of a suicide mission, but you could see him thinking i am getting croaked anyway. i might as well go out on my shield and at least live manley. for two years -- that i played in the nfl for two years. how are you going to sit there and have policy -- she is going
to call him in care him a new one every day. at least he can step up now and take it like a man. i hope they go further. i have been liberal in my life and i have been conservative in my life. it is getting too far that way. tavis: i am going to ask you where the switch came. you are not the first person i have talked to over the years that started liberal. >> our members -- i remember watching the vice presidential candidate. it was a moment when a light switch went off and i thought i should start reading about things. due to the fractious nature of the dialogue, i do not think i am getting the story. i read aout the hanoi hilton establishing a code to keep young prisoners alive who wanted to die. he would tap on the pipes at life and hold therapeutic sessions to keep them alive.
john mccain saying he is the greatest man he had ever met in his life. i think is that what it has come to in this country? the man steps up there and says i do not know what i am doing here because he is uncomfortable on tv, because he has led a life and not learned the tricks we do in this culture, a man who has done something with his life. he is dumped on by the left in this country because he did not look good on tv. this room might be getting a little too hip for me. i never liked it when comedians would tell a joke you did not get and would act like you were the idiot. i just did not dig the joke. that is what it was like. i started to say, why are you being so mean to that guy? i stood up for him on an hbo special. it felt good. i just remember thinking at that point i am going to learn everything i can about these issues because i do not think anybody is telling me anything
but their side. then 9/11 was a big moment for me. it did not change me completely. i have always been a bit of a practice. if you asked me 20 years ago if i cared about gay people getting married, i am happy. if you asked me about abortion, i would say it is a convoluted subject and everybody has to go their own way. it is wrong, god will have a talk with you down the road. but that is on you. that is not on me. i am for choice. as far as certain things like fiscal issues -- i do not think we should spend that much. on war -- i think once you go lg to sherman. you have to find the enemy wherever you can and stop them. tavis: by my count you have used the word pragmatist at least three times. i love talking to you. i do not know anybody on the right leading things in washington who would ever use the word pragmatist to describe their politics. if there were pragmatist, i
could get along with them. there may be a couple. there are sheer numbers. one or two, but there are not enough pragmatists on the right. they are ideologues'. >> this whole thing is going to crash. they are going to start pragmatism. did you think -- did you see the game what the mole? they have been laying low for years. finally there is a movement that way. we have to figure out some common sense norman rockwell approaches to some of these problems. tavis: mitch mcconnell said job number one is to make sure obama does not get a second term. that does not sound like pragmatism. >> that is his words, not mine. barack obama makes decisions that make sense to me. i want them to work. he is my president. i have a lot invested in this country. if my man thinks the way he is going right now is going to work, it is not. and you cannot take the 70% of
the people who disagree with you on an issue -- and the last i heard, 70% of the people have some problems with obama. once you start saying the 70% do not get it, give us the time of day over here. tavis: i was processing this as you said it. you were making comments about a comedian who would tell a joke that would go over the audience is head and pulling the audience, per for is a new. -- paraphrasing you. >> deep down, i think they knew there were not doing their job. tavis: i am not accusing you of ever thinking the audience were stupid, but some of that criticism was against you with monday night football. you were so over the head of those of us who watched football that we could not follow you. you did not think we were stupid, did you? >> i did a pretty good audition for don, who liked the idea of trying to recreate that. he gave me a little advice. in retrospect, i had two years i
enjoyed. half the country headed my guts. at the beginning, probably more than that. i got it to around half and half by the end of the second year. tavis: it is america. that is all you can ask for. >> i am making a living. you have gone psychotic. the simple fact is i do not even think of a three minute booth works. in the times we live -- this is a key thing. when i start talking about notching down to 40 seconds between plays, you have just drove the third guy out. michaels is the best play-by- play man. the best i have ever seen. he is gone to wrap the plate. that is foreign to take 15 seconds. he will throw it to the hall of fame quarterback who will replace it. i have six seconds and they throw it to make a joke about
somebody looking like uncle fester from the addams family. i am sitting there waiting to flick the job. sometimes the judge is not there. i had a good two years. it seemed like an awkward fit. i remember when madden left fox i called fox that morning and said, what are you doing later this afternoon? do you think he is sitting around talking? he is out on a road. he left. he is eating brisket. we talked later that afternoon. tavis: how did you know that this was your thing, to be able to stand up and make us laugh and think at the same time? that is not easy to do. >> the first night happen to be a night -- i saw a kid on the tonight show. i was in pittsburgh. i had some dreams and aspirations but was anxiety
written about performing. i was opening for the tonight show. -- he was opening for the tonight show. i shot it for 25 bucks. he goes on there and kills a person. i am sitting at home in my underwear with a can of beans, thinking are you kidding me? i do not care how much of a putz you are about this, you have to learn to tell your jokes. tavis: was its stage fright? >> i got a key lesson from richard m. belles. i saw him one night and i had a road to damascus moment. he did not even care if they liked him. he knew they wanted him to be adept. in some way, that was sexier to them, that he was insufficient.
he was not needing them. i needed them at the beginning. you have to get to the point. it is a pretty presumptuous act if you're bored to stand up in front of a crowd and say, "i am quick to talk for an hour and you are going to depoig it." they sensed i had too much of a stake in them. this is convoluted stuff. it is like watching the dating game when a guy give a better answer. you are at home and you think that guy represents me. i have to get out of the room. i had too much of a stake in it and could not settle in. i remember thinking i get it. they want you to be good at it. shut up and get good at it. tavis: it is clear you got over that a long time ago. >> i am doing radio now during the day, and i must say -- tavis: 3 hours. a lot of talk.
>> i find it so easy. as i get older, it is much quicker in the gunfight. it is like "gunsmoke." all of a sudden it is getting, upper in the holster. i started plunging on tv. it is a little hiccup. when i get in stand-up, i go back to the basic mode and and a killer out there. in the interviews, i am a little fancier than i used to be. tavis: you still like the stand up? >> it is action. something can go wrong. everybody is sitting down on the floor. if it is never going to go wrong, you might as well be teaching the chop shop. i like the fact that you can't go kind of wrong. tavis: i want to close on something i said earlier, because now it is going wrong and i am stumbling. i want to get to something i
said earlier. >> it is wmds! tavis: i want to close by saying something i loved about you. it is very difficult to empower an audience with information and entertainment at the same time. you do that very thing. >> that is sweet of you. at the end of the day if you start buying your own bs about making a difference, you are dead. you have to get an unconscious laugh out of them every 20 to 30 seconds in my business or you end up being one of these cats -- you are lenny bruce at the village beat reading your court transcripts on stage. what happened to lenny bruce? you cannot take yourself seriously. i dig being a court jester. seinfeld told me once the sitcom was like a day job. "i am a stand-up comedian." he has the biggest tv show in the history of the medium and
felt it was a cottage industry and he was really a stand up. i remember thinking the same thing. i did it because not everybody can get in. at some point you have to step outside that curtain and potentially eat it in front of other human beings. you can have all the council in the world. they stop when you get to the edge of the curtain. [laughter] so that is what i did about it. tavis: that is why i did dennis miller. the new piece is called "dennis miller: the big speech." that is our show for tonight. thanks for tuning in. until next time, keep the faith. >> and exactly what is the problem with global warming again? you are spending christmas day golfing because it is 82 degrees out? what is the problem there, you know? one man and of the world as you know it is another man's "it is nice out." >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley
at pbs.org tavis: join me next time for a lk at the congressional battle over immigration and tactics, plus an actor rain wilson. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i am james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance proudly supports tavis smiley.